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The Winter Dance Party Murders

With his customary pyrotechnics, Herriges gives us a “what if” tale written in a swift, agile manner that has become his signature style over the course of seven luminous novels. So you thought Buddy Holly died in a plane crash in 1959, right? Rudolph Kearns, aka Rudy Keen, begs to differ. Keen, a striving rock and roll song writer and musician, narrates an alternate history concerning some of the greatest singers of the 50?s and 60?s. He has the inside scoop on numerous Rock giants: Del Shannon, Sam Cooke, Richie Valens, the Big Bopper and a wealth of other famous singers. Keen manages to write his own hit song, but nothing turns out the way he dreamed it would. Between the lines, Herriges seems to be reminding us to be careful what we wish for and be careful not to take any agents or record producers (or film producers either) at face value. Read more…

Ghost Dance: A Play of Voices

As Chloride, a dying New Mexican mining town, whirls toward a rendezvous with truth, its people find themselves precariously balanced between a lost past of blood-deep spirituality and an unknowable, terrifying future, between the world of drama and the drama of the world. A filmmaker trying to turn his disillusionment into truth; a once celebrated film star who disappears; a look-alike who takes her place; a trickster who enjoys the chaos he creates around him are all part of the play. In this eerie, beautifully crafted novel, Gladys Swan presents an impressionistic palimpsest of myth and modem life. The present is revealed as only a play of light and shadow over a ghost dance that—tenu¬ously—ensures the world’s continued exis¬tence. Part history, part myth, part meditation on truth and illusion, the novel reveals a kaleidoscope of plots and subplots, each refracted through the perceptions—the voices—of a cast of characters as intriguing as the Southwest itself. Read more…

The Eight Corners of the World

Told entirely from the point of view of Yosinori Yamaguchi, a Japanese honors student who excels in his study of English during the nineteen thirties and who is totally devoted to American film, the novel rollicks through Japanese-American history with an ironically detached account of one man’s struggle to adhere to the philosophy of yoin ma do, which the narrator quickly translates into his pidgin Japanese-hipster English to mean. ..Go with do flow,”‘ meaning, as the story unfolds, to take life’s ironies as they come. Read more…

A Dark Gamble

A Dark Gamble, a Western epic inspired by the great epic of Gilgamesh, is set in New Mexico during the era when gold and silver were being discovered and prospectors, miners and ranchers were pouring into the territory, the local Apaches consequently being hunted down and displaced. The novel is an attempt to explore an aspect of the American past, with its roots in an untamed land and the uneasy transition to the modern world. The action takes place in the town of Destiny, which shoots up when gold is discovered in the region. The story is told by a narrator who has heard tales of Gil Weston and Jack Cameron since his youth, men who still engage his imagination of those around him. Out of his own fascination and curiosity, he feels compelled to take up their story himself as part of his own quest for an understanding of the past and a meaning for his own life. Read more…

In a Vertigo of Silence

Can the truth really set one free? In Miriam Polli’s debut novel, In a Vertigo of Silence, Emily, the young protagonist, discovers a family secret and thinks, I know now that secrets run in the blood and bones of those who came before. This intensely moving, multi-generational novel follows the lives of women, both strong and frail—shrouded, at times warped, by the confines of a long-held secret. Polli has drawn characters with empathy and poignancy as Emily strives to change the destiny of her family. Read more…

French Kisses

Twelve stories depicting Americans in France, a broad array of characters and situations- -a boozy basketball player colliding with bigotry; a vet at Omaha Beach confronting a memory; a boy sent abroad while his parents divorce; a jealous sister coveting one last heirloom; a killer seeking peace at Lake Geneva; a pharmacist shielding his suspect wife; an American woman who’s never lived in America; sons bullied by fathers; a relentless dreamer about to go illegal. All seek the enchantment, refuge or even forgiveness France might offer. But they can’t quite discard the baggage they carry. Read more…

Icon

When Mr. Finger builds his first Finger a half mile high flipping off the fabulously wealthy, Peter Boatz, a professor of Icons, finally has a fertile subject for his Icons of Power book. But this gigantic, obscene monument to the rich, with enormous grassroots support, soon takes on multiple meanings for Boatz: the abstract versus the concrete, the ideal versus the real, and involvement in the world versus withdrawal. Read more…

Too Cool

Sixteen-year-old Elbert Earl Evans (known as Triple E) bursts out of Goodpasture Correctional Facility and speeds toward freedom in a stolen Oldsmobile. As he outraces the police, his car stalls in the Colorado badlands in the middle of a snowstorm and he is stranded with his girl, Jeanne. Once he sets out on foot to find help in a landscape of bone-chilling desolation, his mind becomes a blizzard of memories and images, from the soft, sweet voice of his grandmother to his father’s cruel betrayal to the stark words of a writer named Kafka. The past becomes inseparable from the present as he fights to stay alive–and relives the twisting, tragi-comic odyssey that has brought him to this desperate point. Read more…

Local Music

A man who can’t bring himself to return to the apartment of his failing marriage, a woman spied on by a neighbor, a father terrified by the four-year- old next door, a boy living in a house haunted by his mother’s madness, a mother whose children are freezing in a heatless bedroom–the characters in the Stories of Local Music are unsettled in their own homes, their lives dissonant and discordant. Read more…

Sympathetic People

Both the beauty and frailty of human connections are seen in the thirteen stories collected in Sympathetic People. Here are women and men struggling to find love, meaning, happiness in marriage, adulterous affairs, art, meditation, and even the passage from life to death. Longing generated by loss is everywhere–in the death of a son, the end of a marriage, the slide from hope ignited by Neil Armstrong’s moon walk to hopelessness after President Kennedy’s death.In “Hindsight,” Jessie, a hippie in Lawrence, Kansas, opts for what she assumes is stability in a world of change, only to be brought up short years later when her life veers off its predicted path. “The Secrets of Snakes” reveals the early ruptures in a marriage and a wife’s futile attempts to stop them even as she tries to care for her son’s pet racer. In “The Jewel Box,” a grandmother promises to let her granddaughter know what Heaven is like after she passes and if, in fact, it looks like the Art Deco greenhouse built in St. Louis during the 1904 World’s Fair. And in “Versions,” a newlywed in Plano, Texas, entertains her sometimes angry husband’s first wife and realizes too late what she has given up in choosing him. Read more…